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Have you lost a tooth due to trauma?  Or maybe your tooth chipped while you were eating?  Either way, your dentist should be the first person you call if you have a dental emergency.  Many dentists will even set aside time specifically for when a dental emergency arises. Injuries to a person’s mouth may include teeth that are knocked out, chipped, cracked or fractured.  When injury occurs, immediate attention is important in preserving the life of your tooth or teeth. You never know when a dental emergency might occur and the best step is to be prepared.    

A Knocked Out Tooth

Whether you are playing a sport or simply walking, if your tooth gets knocked out it is a dental emergency that needs to be handled immediately. If the appropriate emergency steps are followed immediately after your tooth is knocked out, you can increase the chances of your tooth being reinserted and preserved by your dentist. First, and foremost, pick up your tooth by the top of the tooth and do not touch the root.  Rinse off your tooth gently to ensure that it is clean, but do not scrub your tooth or remove any tissue attached to it. Be sure to place a towel or washcloth in the sink so that the tooth does not go down the drain.

If you can, try to gently place the tooth back into the socket and hold it gently in place while trying to bite down. If the tooth is unable to be placed back into the socket, put it in a small container or in a cup of milk. Call your dentist immediately because getting to your dentist quickly with your tooth is critical for saving your tooth. The longer you wait to re-implant your tooth, the less chance you will have of the tooth being able to be reinserted.

A Chipped, Cracked or Fractured Tooth

If you crack, chip or fracture a tooth, this is considered a serious dental emergency. Fractured and cracked teeth may suggest that the damage occurred to both the inside and outside of the tooth. When the fracture is severe, your tooth may not be able to be saved. Call your dentist immediately if you chip, crack or fracture your tooth.  

Between calling your dentist and visiting their office, following these steps will also help in saving your tooth:

  • Gently rinse your mouth with warm water.
  • If your fracture is caused by facial trauma, apply a cold compress to the area to minimize swelling.
  • Take acetaminophen or any other pain medicine as directed by your dentist to alleviate pain.
  • Never apply a painkiller to your gums because it can burn the tissue.  

An x-ray will be needed in order for your dentist to properly diagnose the condition of your tooth and begin treatment. If your tooth cannot be saved, your dentist will recommend alternatives for replacing your missing teeth, including implants and bridges.

How do I Know if it is an Emergency?

Sometimes there are dental problems that do not signify a dental emergency. Smoothing a chipped tooth, re-cementing a crown that is not causing pain, and composite bonding to repair a tooth are not considered a dental emergency, rather they can be treated during your dentist’s regular hours. If you are unsure whether or not you are experiencing a dental emergency or not, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you bleeding from the mouth?
  • Are you in severe pain?
  • Do you have any loose teeth?  
  • Have you been hit in the face or mouth?
  • Is there swelling in your mouth or face?
  • Are there any bulges, swelling or knots on your gums?

Did you answer yes to any of these questions? If so, you may be experiencing a dental emergency and should call your dentist immediately. It is important to act fast and know how to handle a dental emergency.  

Dr. Freeman and his experienced team here at Louis I. Freeman DDS in Skokie can successfully treat your dental injuries, as well as help you avoid future problems.